North Imenti constituency: Anglo Leasing ghost could haunt Mwiraria’s re-election bid

A dark cloud hangs over the political career of former Finance minister David Mwiraria who has represented North Imenti constituency for three consecutive terms.

Mr Mwiraria is defending the seat in an election which has attracted the largest number of candidates in the entire Meru region.

That the former minister has yet to be cleared of the Anglo Leasing ghost has not helped matters for him.

He is now seen as being out of the loop of his long time political ally President Kibaki over the multi-billion scandal that shook the Narc administration to its roots.

Mr Mwiraria was implicated in tapes recorded by former Ethics Permanent secretary John Githongo for allegedly having implored him “to go slow” in investigations into Anglo Leasing scam.

The First Lady, Mrs Lucy Kibaki, was in Mr Mwiraria’s constituency last month where she hinted the MP was likely to be re-appointed to the Cabinet.

Council of elders

But his rivals say the failure to be reappointed to the Cabinet despite appeals by the much respected Njuri Ncheke council of elders, should be interpreted to mean the President lacks confidence in him. His opponents now say the silence by the Head of State is a pointer to how the MP’s fortunes have dwindled.

Mr Mwiraria’s fortunes further nosedived during the recent Narc-K grassroots elections. Several of his supporters decamped to other parties, accusing him of rigging the election by declaring himself party chairman at the branch level after skipping grassroots elections.

The candidates facing him include his perennial rival Mr Silas Muriuki who is a former Meru branch executive secretary of the Kenya National Union of Teachers and a media consultant Dr Karambu Ringera.

Also in the race are NGO consultant Abonyai Kiogora, two university dons, Prof Xavier Gichuru and Dr Joseph Mberia.

Others are Mombasa-based lawyer Kaumbuthu Meenye, London-based teacher Kiogora Akandi, former policeman Zablon Mathenge, the late Jackson Angaine’s son Mugambi Angaine, Mr Douglas Kanyamu, clinical officer Bariu Mberia and a scholar, Mr Morris Mwariama.

Mr Muriuki has been giving the MP stiff competition in the last three general elections despite the fact that Meru has been a stronghold of President Kibaki right from 1992 when he was in Opposition.

Strong wave

Even with the strong wave of Narc in 2002, Mr Muriuki put up a serious fight, coming second with 19,705 votes on a Kanu ticket against Mr Mwiraria’s 31,483.

Mr Muriuki, who has since decamped to Mazingira Green Party of Kenya, believes his ticket was his undoing and is optimistic that with a Kibaki-friendly party, he will turn tables on Mr Mwiraria

His new found party is associated with the Greenbelt Movement of Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Mathai who is the Tetu MP. Its membership in the constituency runs close to 30,000.

Although both Mwiraria and Muriuki belong to the dominant Methodist Church, the latter could have an upper hand in attracting support since he is a member of the Kaaga Synod which he has represented at the Standing Committee and the Annual Conference of the church over the last three years.

Mr Muriuki accuses the MP of unfair disbursement of constituency bursaries which he claims has been benefiting children from undeserving families, including those of a close relative.

Mr Mwiraria is also being accused of being inaccessible to the electorate, especially the youths when he was in the Cabinet.

Dr Ringera completed her Doctorate degree in Human Communication at Denver University, Colorado, US.

She also holds a Masters degree in Media from Natal University, South Africa.

Dr Ringera, who has vast experience in mobilising grassroots support is expected to pose a serious challenge in the male dominated race.

She expects to get backing mainly from the women who form the biggest chunk of voters.

She has worked with people who live in abject poverty in the constituency and the majority of them are women. Her ticket is the newly registered Forum for Republican Party.

Her ambition is to join hands with like-minded people to build institutions and put in place systems that empower people to alleviate poverty.

The issues likely to dominate the campaigns include poor roads.

Become impassable

Top of the agenda will be the haphazard construction of township roads, the Meru-Mikinduri road and other feeder roads to the agriculturally rich area which become impassable during rainy season.

Mr Mwiraria will be hard put to explain why he did not use his powerful position at the Treasury to have as many roads tarmacked as those in the neighbouring South Imenti of Mr Kiraitu Murungi.

He is also being accused of failing to assist his constituents secure top Government jobs.

Another issue expected to feature is the elephant menace in Ruiri, Rwanyange and Giaki areas.

Last year alone, two people were trampled to death in Giaki while another was killed in Ruiri.

Mr Mwiraria should also brace himself to diffuse allegations from his opponents that the management of the CDF is wanting.

He is being accused of having put his political allies and close relatives in charge of CDF kitty.

It is believed that breaking into the committee’s office last March during which a computer disc containing vital information was stolen was connected to a cover up scheme.

But Mr Mwiraria is a shrewd politician who cannot be wished away easily.

Although clan politics may not be very pronounced in North Imenti, Mr Mwiraria’s dominant Ntakira clan which has between 10,000 to 15,000 voters would give him a solid bloc support come the elections.

Mr Akandi who is vying on DP comes from the same clan and is likely to make inroads in the bloc.

The late self-styled King of Meru Jackson Angaine had blessed Mr Mwiraria. Since then, Mr Angaine’s Igoki clan had been throwing its weight behind him.

But since last year, Mr Mwiraria parted ways with Igoki’s political godfathers including the mayor of Meru Andrew Gituma and other civic leaders who have since thrown their weight behind Mr Muriuki.

Many of the other candidates including Mr Muriuki come from Nyaki settlement scheme, which is a conglomeration of many smaller clans that settled in the constituency from different parts of Meru. They are, however, outnumbered by the Ntakira and Igoki.

But the Abothuguchis and Tiganias, who are mainly settled in Timau division, have always been voting in favour of Mr Muriuki, making him the favourite candidate in the area.

The cosmopolitan Meru municipality, has also been giving overwhelming support to Mr Mwiraria over the past three elections.

If this trend repeats itself, he will be way ahead of the pack in the forthcoming elections.

Both Mr Mwiraria and Mr Muriuki have built houses in the cosmopolitan Timau division which borders Nanyuki municipality but which is famous for extensive wheat, barley and horticulture farming.

Prominent Kenyans, especially power brokers and senior civil servants in the Kenyatta regime, own tracts of land on which they grow flowers or lease them to prominent companies like Homegrown for horticultural farming.

All said and done, an interesting battle is in the offing in North Imenti.

It might be the end of the road of the political career of Mr Mwiraria who is destined to become one of the Njuri Ncheke elders after retiring from active politics.

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One Response to North Imenti constituency: Anglo Leasing ghost could haunt Mwiraria’s re-election bid

Anonymous said...

Mr. Douglas Kanyamu, a very influential and charismatic candidate is most likely to turn tables in the next 2012 General Elections.He currently has a lot of support especially from the youth.